Labor Union

NFL Players Association

A depiction of the National Football League Players Association logo. (link)
Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1169809

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $95,859,487
Expenses: $43,454,896
Assets: $428,023,323

President:

JC Tretter

Executive Director:

DeMaurice Smith

The National Football League Players Association, known as the NFL Players Association or NFLPA, is the labor union representing professional football players in the National Football League (NFL). The union was founded in 1956 and is led by a board of player representatives from each NFL team. [1] The NFLPA is a labor union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) labor union federation. [2]

The union has recently released statements supportive of several left-leaning causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement,[3] opposition to state-level election integrity laws,[4] and unionization of Amazon warehouse workers. [5]

Background

The NFL Players Association was founded in 1956 to push team owners to provide things such as higher pay, safer equipment, and clean uniforms. [6] The union’s membership is comprised of current and former players, with only players on active NFL rosters being able to vote on union issues and leadership. [7]

From 1983 until his death in 2008, the union was led by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Gene Upshaw, who played 15 years for the Oakland Raiders and took over the union as executive director upon his retirement. Upshaw was credited with turning around the union, which had bleak finances at the time, and leading the union through several lucrative bargaining agreements including the introduction of free agency in exchange for a salary cap. Upshaw and the union also received criticism from retired players for not doing enough to provide support to former players facing football-related health problems. [8]

Operations

Players for each individual NFL team elect a player from the team and three alternates to sit on the board of directors of the union, which is referred to as the Board of Player Reps. A main focus of the union’s activity is to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement every ten years with the NFL, which several times throughout history has led to a player lockout. The most recent labor dispute between the union and the NFL was when the 2010 negotiations led to an 18-week lockout. [9]

The NFL Players Association also operates a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary company called NFL Players, Inc. The company is a licensing vehicle to sell name, image, and likeness licensing and sponsorship agreements to sponsors. While individual NFL players are able to license their own personal image and have personal sponsors, all sponsorship and licensing deals consisting of six or more players are required to go through NFL Players Inc. [10] The company generates nearly $150 in revenue annually, which is divided among the players and the union. [11]

Leadership

DeMaurice Smith serves as Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. Smith is an attorney who worked in the Department of Justice as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as a Counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the Clinton Administration. [12]

Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter is the current president of the NFLPA. Other notable players in the union’s executive committee include New York Giants defensive back Michael Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman (who is as of May 2021 a free agent), and Eagles safety Michael Jenkins. [13]

Political Activity

Following widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, the NFL Players Association supported the movement by creating several videos supporting Black Lives Matter messaging and creating t-shirts that were worn by all players during pregame warm-up during the first game of the season that said “End Racism.” [14]

In 2021, the NFLPA issued a joint statement with eight other professional sports unions condemning Republican-backed state-level election integrity legislation. [15]

The NFLPA has also weighed in on recent controversies regarding the unionization of Amazon employees at a large Alabama-based facility, releasing a video touting union membership. [16]

Political Action Committee

The NFL Players Association operates a federal political action committee called the NFLPA One Team PAC which contributes to candidates of both parties in state and federal races. [17]

The PAC contributed a total of $80,000 to candidates in 2020, with $35,000 going to Republicans and $45,000 to Democrats. The PAC donated predominately to Democratic house candidates, with former NFL player Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) being the sole House Republican supported. In the Senate, the PAC supported mostly Republicans. The PAC’s giving mostly indicates support for the chamber majority at the time of the elections as well as support for leadership and committee chairs in both chambers. [18]

References

  1. “How the NFLPA Works.” NFL Players Association. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://nflpa.com/about ^
  2. “NFL Players Association Demonstrates Power of Collective Bargaining.” AFL-CIO. March 11, 2021. Accessed May 8, 2021. https://aflcio.org/about/leadership/statements/nflpa-demonstrates-power-collective-bargaining ^
  3. “Leading the Charge.” NFL Players Association. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://nflpa.com/posts/leading-the-charge ^
  4. “Professional Sports Unions Come Together to Oppose New Voting Restrictions.” NFL Players Association. May 3, 2021. https://nflpa.com/press/professional-sports-unions-come-together-to-oppose-new-voting-restrictions ^
  5. Gurley, Lauren. “NFL Players Endorse Amazon Warehouse Worker Unionization.” Vice. January 25, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7axzn/nfl-players-endorse-amazon-warehouse-workers-unionization ^
  6. “How the NFLPA Works.” NFL Players Association. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://nflpa.com/about ^
  7. “IRS Form 990.” NFL Players Association. 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/521169809/08_2020_prefixes_47-52%2F521169809_201902_990O_2020082817268124 ^
  8. Battista, Judy. “Gene Upshaw, NFL Union Chief, Dies at 63.” New York Times. August 21, 2008. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/sports/football/22upshaw.html ^
  9. Battista, Judy. “Gene Upshaw, NFL Union Chief, Dies at 63.” New York Times. August 21, 2008. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/sports/football/22upshaw.html ^
  10. “NFL Players Inc.” NFL Players Association. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://nflpa.com/partners/licensing ^
  11. “IRS Form 990.” NFL Players Association. 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/521169809/08_2020_prefixes_47-52%2F521169809_201902_990O_2020082817268124 ^
  12. “DeMaurice Smith.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/demaurice-smith-30782929/ ^
  13. Patra, Kevin. “Browns center JC Tretter elected next NFLPA president.” NFL. March 10, 2020. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.nfl.com/news/browns-center-jc-tretter-elected-next-nflpa-president-0ap3000001105741 ^
  14. “Leading the Charge.” NFL Players Association. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://nflpa.com/posts/leading-the-charge ^
  15. “Professional Sports Unions Come Together to Oppose New Voting Restrictions.” NFL Players Association. May 3, 2021. https://nflpa.com/press/professional-sports-unions-come-together-to-oppose-new-voting-restrictions ^
  16. Gurley, Lauren. “NFL Players Endorse Amazon Warehouse Worker Unionization.” Vice. January 25, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7axzn/nfl-players-endorse-amazon-warehouse-workers-unionization ^
  17. “NFL Players Association PAC.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-football-league-players-assn/C00619429/candidate-recipients/2020 ^
  18. “NFL Players Association PAC.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-football-league-players-assn/C00619429/candidate-recipients/2020 ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. DeMaurice F. Smith
    Executive Director
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: February - January
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1971

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Feb Form 990 $95,859,487 $43,454,896 $428,023,323 $10,942,500 N $0 $37,154,314 $6,907,319 $3,319,934 PDF
    2017 Feb Form 990 $83,907,676 $40,487,395 $367,748,124 $12,724,278 N $0 $35,798,775 $5,596,151 $3,287,095
    2016 Feb Form 990 $80,694,140 $41,126,561 $311,083,236 $13,599,950 N $0 $34,463,274 $5,186,304 $3,179,307
    2015 Feb Form 990 $84,798,814 $38,834,588 $284,985,154 $17,508,481 N $0 $31,380,736 $4,722,154 $3,148,987 PDF
    2014 Feb Form 990 $65,896,967 $39,907,052 $241,444,866 $23,502,500 N $0 $21,626,950 $5,312,223 $2,405,077 PDF
    2013 Feb Form 990 $60,544,702 $40,655,723 $223,272,139 $33,192,223 N $0 $21,211,771 $4,270,818 $2,323,835 PDF
    2012 Feb Form 990 $81,299,394 $117,486,538 $211,026,150 $44,193,241 N $0 $44,398,369 $3,540,263 $3,677,821 PDF
    2011 Feb Form 990 $92,763,194 $113,601,238 $252,916,460 $56,661,430 N $0 $43,159,026 $5,013,142 $2,339,623 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    NFL Players Association

    1133 20TH ST NW STE 600
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-3450